Chemical & Process Engineering
Introduction to Chemical & Process Engineering.
In this area we are developing the fundamentals and applications of Chemical Engineering Science - experimental and modelling, from the laboratory to real world applications. Work which has medical applications, particularly in tissue and cardiovascular engineering, biomaterial and cell processing, is also described under Biomedical engineering.
In Tissue Engineering and Bioprocessing, we apply chemical engineering principles to develop enabling technologies for translating innovation into clinical practice. For example we are working on bioreactor technologies for stem cell expansion and tissue culture, biosensors, preservation technologies (cryo, and chemical). Bioseparations are another particular focus, for products like monoclonal antibodies, and bio-active molecules such as peptides and biosurfactants.
A key focus of research is bioprocessing of industrial waste waters generated by engineering industries, such as aerospace and automotive. This includes development of bioreactors for transformation of organic effluent to biogas and recovery of the heavy metals, so decontaminating the water to enable recycling on site. Parallel bioreactor-based studies are focused also on Anaerobic Digestion of green waste to generate bioenergy in the form of methane.
Membrane separation has been used more and more widely in a range of industrial processes from conventional chemical processing to healthcare, pharmaceutical, and environmental applications. With the recent rapid development in new materials and ever growing demand in reducing energy consumptions in chemical and process industry, novel membranes and processes are being developed for new applications. The membrane group explores these new frontiers, based on chemical engineering science, in collaboration with top scientists worldwide.
Our work is centred in the analysis and synthesis of engineering systems and in the understanding of their interaction with society. Only by taking into account the interplay between social agents (humans and organisations) and physical infrastructure it is possible to develop effective and sustainable engineering systems.
Some of the work developed in the Systems Engineering group is geared towards the interaction between energy, water and transport systems with policy development and evaluation.
In the area of Sustainability, the Process Analysis Method (PAM) has been developed. PAM has been applied to measure the sustainability of manufacturing processes, services and natural resources. Additional work is being done in the areas of energy security and the assessment of the impact of geo-engineering schemes.
Working closely with industry (BP-Castrol) we designing new metal working fluid formulations that are durable and effective when in use but can be effectively be treated end-of-life employing sustainable bioprocessing approaches and replacing current energy demanding routes.
Water is one of the planet's most precious natural resources, yet only 1% is available for human consumption. The sustainable supply and treatment of water are thus among the major challenges of the 21st century. Our activities address three key areas: the supply of potable water and low energy desalination; waste-water treatment and water reuse; and process water treatment and recycling. To address these challenges, we apply a diverse range of expertise in colloids, membranes, biological processes and sustainability indices. Developing sustainable solutions to these problems is a key driver in all of our work. A key focus is the diversity and activity of microbial populations that degrade organic pollutants, both in the environment and bioreactors, and enhancing this ability by employing engineered approaches such as nanotechnology and electrokinetics.